FROM OUR VERY OWN FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Mark FryOur roving reporter brings you the very best in all things wargaming from abroad. Not for him the sordid fleshpots of Club 18-30, Mark appreciates the finer things in life (1830 BC!)
When our partner states in that special voice (you know the one I mean) that “we haven’t had a holiday in a while” you just know that something is going to have to be booked and booked smartish like! And so it was that we ended up with a weeks holiday in Valencia. Why Valencia you may well ask? Indeed that is a good question. Well, as far as my good lady was concerned, it is cheap (ish), warm and sunny (I can certainly vouch for that), it is not too “chavvy”, had nice food and a load of very fine modern art galleries and it is jam packed full of ‘culture’. And by Culture (note the capital ‘C’) there are 38 museums, endless medieval churches (+ a Cathedral), an venerated Madonna statue, a chapel of the (genuine) Holy Grail etc. etc. plus a nice fresh food market and a host of appropriate shops (Spanish shoes seem to be an item of interest this season).
But there is also a statue of El Cid and James the Conqueror (in the same square you understand), a horde of medieval and renaissance civic Spanish building – you know the type, impressive stone walls, massive doors, turrets, gargoyles (more on them later) and the usual heraldic painted beamed ceilings etc. Massive medieval gate houses, a C15th Silk Hall (with more gargoyles) and alongside this you have a bit of Moorish and even Roman heritage – i.e. interesting ways to torture your rebellious enemies are graphically displayed in the archaeological museum as Pompey’s troops taught the local Valencia Spanish that supporting Sertorious was not such a good idea after all (Edward II would have recognized the methodology!).
But did I say 38 museums dear reader …. well I misled you, there are in fact 39 and what a treat the 39th one is.
Yes folks, the L’iber Museo de los Soldaditos de Plomo is all its name suggests it is – a 1 million figure strong wargaming and model soldier museum (with c.90,000 on display). So as I packed the good lady off on a 2 hour shoe buying expedition with her credit card (mine safely stashed away in my own wallet you understand), I paid my discounted 3 Euro entry fee and entered the hallowed portals of this glorious establishment.
The 3,000+ 15mm Xyston Gaugamela display was truly awesome but it almost paled into insignificance in comparison with the 9,500 piece 25mm MiniFigs diorama of the battle of Almansa (1707) from the Wars of the Spanish Succession or the 50mm Austerlitz, Waterloo and Retreat from Moscow scenes.
Needless to say I exited two and a half hours later (in a daze) to find my good lady seated at a pavement cafe opposite eating ice cream with a couple of bulging shoe filled shopping bags at her feet. All I bought was a 5 euro catalog (as an aid memoir) purely for research purposes you understand – but the inspiration will stay with me for ever – as will my admiration for a stunning collection of model soldiers and a thought provoking concept . A thoroughly worthwhile visit, even though it did cost in the region of over 300 Euros in the end to get in, in the end. That is accounting for the cost of shoe purchases, the dinner the night beforehand to ‘smooth the path’ and the cost of the ice creams and the 3 euro entry fee … but all well worth it I can tell you.
A wonderful Spanish holiday Ole!
PS … I almost forgot to mention there is actually a 40th museum – a local Army Museum – but I wasn’t going to push my luck by suggesting a visit to that as well – so we had a very ‘nice’ afternoon in the Silk museum instead (and acquired a very fetching rose pink silk scarf as a souvenir … lovely!)
Mark Fry is a freelance journalist employed by the Despertaferres news media group. His specialities are rural issues in the West of Slimbridge and the furze growing industry of Lower Slaughter. He will hopefully being reporting from Cry Havoc LADG competition this weekend. Stay tuned for more from this master wordsmith…